The car is a necessity in today’s world. Logically, a good and honest mechanic follows.
Having a good mechanic who can keep your car in proper function is just as important as a good dentist, doctor, hairdresser, plumber, etc.
But as in many professional careers, finding the right one can be like hitting the jackpot. The path to finding a good mechanic is often paved with overpaid services (read rip-offs), lack of quality, poor treatment or just old-fashioned swindling.
Therefore, here’s what you should pay attention to in order to spare yourself some unnecessary headaches:
The internet is probably the first place you’ll go. Among other things, I highly recommend professional forums on this topic. They are worth gold. And don't forget the old-fashioned hearsay: ask friends, family, neighbors, whom ever you know for a recommendation. This used to be one of the best sources of information before the internet era. Ask for their experiences, good and bad. Trust me, this is also a powerful tool for finding a good mechanic.
Inform yourself about the malfunction
What could it be (check engine light, dual mass flywheel, overheating etc.), what caused it, what kind of experience did anyone else have. Don’t be shy; take a look under the hood. Informing yourself may give you a good head start and perhaps stop a possible repair shake down (this goes twice if you’re a first time visitor to the car service garage).
To be honest: everyone likes pretty! It's not the same when you see a garage or dealership from the future (clean, all lightened up, with a fancy design) and a smudged up, old-fashioned, "mechanic with visible but cracks"-garage. But don't fall for appearances. It all depends on the mechanic and skill. Not what's surrounds him.
First visit to the mechanic, impression and treatment
I'm not saying you have to get a massage. You should be treated like a human and a paying customer. If you get a harsh or sloppy treatment, lack of information (regardless of your car knowledge level), and have to deal with over-pricing and over-due work, bail out. Regardless of the reputation or image of the garage.
Ask for prices of services and parts. If you are visiting for the first time, please ask for repair prices in advance. They should be able to give you a good cost estimate (10% give or take). Compare with other garages and services. It is common in the world of mechanics to get the same service for a different price. Also, paying more doesn't necessarily mean better quality or service.
Guarantees and quality of work
A mechanic that stands behind the job is one that is trustworthy. Not saying that a guarantee is necessary for a job well done, but it is a good insurance for both you and your money. Great for long-term healthy relationships.
Mechanics and their workshops don’t get these certifications for nothing. Behind these papers stands a lot of invested time and hard work. In most cases, these certificates mean that you will get the job properly done. Especially one that is highly specific (injection system, transmission system, electronics etc). Certified help goes double for the latest car models (with all the new electronic systems, new gadgets etc.).
The nearer the better. Long driving for a simple check-up or some major repair (think towing costs) can be a huge pain. However, don’t make this tip primary in your decision. There is no substitute for high-quality work, but a short distance can be a huge help.
Bigger does not mean better
A large, well-known service garage is not a 100% percent guarantee that you’ll get quality work done. Not saying that you should run away from them, just don’t be shy about a small mechanic workshop (especially if it’s near you). As mentioned, it’s all down to the craft of the mechanic who does the work.